A major Canadian retail pharmacy company has announced that rapid coronavirus tests will likely hit its Metro Vancouver locations in a few weeks.
Locals have expressed growing frustration over the lack of rapid tests in B.C. as other provinces have provided free rapid tests through pharmacies. However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing on Dec.14 that there is a "global supply issue" for rapid antigen tests.
"Unfortunately, there is a global supply issue with many of these tests and we've not been able to get them in in the numbers that would be helpful for us across Canada or here in B.C. yet," she explained.
There are different types of rapid antigen tests available, added Henry. Many of them require a health professional to conduct the nasal swab, but the take-home tests, similar to those used in the United Kingdom, are a "lateral flow test" that may be performed at home. They come in kits of about five tests with a dropper.
But the health officer also clarified in a briefing on Tuesday (Jan. 4) that the province isn't hoarding any tests, addressing a widely-circulating rumour that they were being held in a warehouse.
Public health has also been using rapid antigen tests to supplement PCR testing based on risk. People who are younger and don't have underlying risk factors, particularly if they are fully vaccinated, will most likely receive a rapid test.
While British Columbians have been able to order rapid antigen tests online, no pharmacies in British Columbia have made them available for in-store purchases. Now, London Drugs says the tests should hit B.C. shelves within the month.
In an emailed statement to Vancouver Is Awesome, London Drugs states that it has "been working closely with a number of vendors to bring in rapid tests to our B.C. stores."
While the company experienced a delay in receiving the tests over the holidays, it hopes to "have them delivered in the next two to three weeks."
The province reported record-breaking COVID-19 daily case numbers heading into the holiday season and continues to see staggering daily figures in the new year. As a result, Henry said employers should anticipate seeing significant staff shortages due to illness from the Omicron variant.